Score: Sabres 5, Blues 3
Shots: BUF 31 STL 28
Buffalo Sabres: Goals: Jeff Skinner (20), Alex Tuch (23), Owen Power (2), Tage Thompson (33), Dylan Cozens (17)
St. Louis Blues: Goals: Ivan Barbashev (8), Brayden Schenn (12), Jordan Kyrou (23)
Plus 1: Skinny Strikes First
Just one minute into the first period, Jeff Skinner scored with a wrist shot on Blues goalie Jordan Binnington with assists from Thompson and Okposo. It was Skinner’s 20th goal of the season and his second in five games.
Other Sabres forwards, especially Tage Thompson, have outpaced Skinner in the scoring department. TNT already has 33 goals this year, so it’s great to see No. 53 up his offensive production.
Plus 2: Tuch Makes it Two
Not to be outdone, Alex Tuch got a goal of his own just 25 seconds after Skinner’s wrister to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead. It was Tuch’s first goal since Jan. 19 and his 23rd in 2022-23. The Skinner-Thompson-Tuch line was firing on all cylinders tonight. Keep it up, guys.
Nhl.com combined the first two Sabres goals into one video. Here they are:
Plus 3: Owen Powerful
The Sabres have two offensive-minded defenseman on their roster, Ramus Dahlin and Owen Power. Both d-men are just as comfortable shooting pucks in the net as they are keeping opponents from getting too close to their own.
Dahlin made some plays lately, but tonight it was Power’s turn. Midway through the first period, No. 25 got the tip-in to give Buffalo a 3-0 lead. It was Power’s 2nd of the season and in back-to-back games. Power continues to show why he’s such a major asset and why the team was fortunate to draft him as the No. 1 pick in 2021.
Plus 4: Tage Tears it Up
Jedi13 had the Comment of the Game: “The RAGIN’ TAGIN!” 1:10 into the second period, Tage Thompson got a backhander past Binnington to give the Sabres a 4-0 lead. TNT’s 33rd of the year put the Blues in a hole they couldn’t completely climb out of. TNT is now just five goals away from tying last season’s record.
Plus 5: Cozens Closes it Out
Unfortunately for Sabres fans, the Blues didn’t give up easily after getting down 4-0 early in the second. Barbashev and Schenn scored a goal each within the next seven minutes to narrow Buffalo’s lead to 2. Then, 47 seconds into the third period, Jordan Kyrou made it 4-3 Sabres.
The Blues turned on the pressure and after pulling their goaltender, the refs penalized Peyton Krebs with a ridiculous delay of game face off violation. With a 5-on-3, it looked like a St. Louis tying goal was almost inevitable.
However, Dylan Cozens saved the day, stealing the puck from St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko and scoring an empty netter to dash the Blues’ comeback hopes. Cozens’ 17th this season was great to see and happened just when Buffalo needed it most.
Minus 1: Refs Ignore Boarding on Krebs
As well as making Krebs sit in the box when the Blues already had the man advantage, the zebras completely ignored what should have been a boarding penalty, when St. Louis forward Niko Mikkola slammed Krebs into the boards right in front of a ref.
Someone give those two Refs a rule book please. pic.twitter.com/BXaWnvOcmm— Fly Navy (@PPP77T) January 25, 2023
The officials ignored Mikkola’s action, but then penalized both No. 77 and Kyle Okposo when the two went at it after Mikkola’s dirty hit. No punishment for hitting Krebs, though. If the NHL wants Sabres fans to believe the fix is not in, they’ll stop getting temporary blindness when opponents get away with cheap shots against Buffalo.
The Sabres can score goals, but have a harder time hanging on to a lead. Too often, they step off the gas early and let other teams get back in the game. 4-0 almost wasn’t enough to beat a St. Louis Blues unit that’s 6th in the Central Division and lost three of their previous five matchups.
The Buffalo Sabres are in the hunt for a playoff spot, hoping to end their postseason drought for the first time since 2011. It’s great they held on for the win, but the Blue and Gold make it more difficult than it needs to be, struggling to close out tough contests. If they want to compete in May, they need to play better consistent hockey in the regular season’s final months.
The Sabres take on the Jets tomorrow night at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.